According to The United States Department of Labor, the field
for dental hygienists is currently one of the fastest growing and
in-demand careers. It is expected that the number of jobs available
will continue only to increase over the next ten years. There are
several schools throughout the United States that offer programs
for dental hygienists.
If the area of dentistry is interesting to you, but you don’t
necessarily want to be a dentist, training to become a dental hygienist
might be a good option. Dental hygienists work primarily in private
dentist offices in the area of preventive oral health services
and care. They can also work in nursing homes and private hospitals.
Some of the duties of a dental hygienist would include cleaning
patient’s teeth, removing stains from teeth, and recording
problem areas in patients‘ mouths. Patients will learn from
you about how to take proper care of their teeth and gums. You’ll
get to share amazing facts with them such as flossing prevents
heart disease! Other tasks include administering fluoride, taking
x-rays and placing sealants on teeth. A few states allow hygienists
more responsibility. They might remove stitches, fill cavities,
and anesthetize patients.
Dental hygienists also prepare laboratory
tests for the doctor to review, even though they aren’t permitted
to give a diagnosis to the patient themselves.
Dental hygienists have flexible hours and schedules, which appeals
to many single mothers. It is a well-paid job and in a respected
field. The average hourly rate is around $29. Those who hold a
master’s degree would have opportunities to teach and make
up to $40 an hour.
Basic admission requirements vary depending on the school. However,
a high school diploma or GED is required along with high school
courses completed in math, chemistry, biology and English. Applicants
must be at least 18 years of age and carry a minimum of a ‘C’ average.
College entrance exam scores are also considered.
An associate’s degree or a four-year degree in dental hygiene
are required to be considered in the field. Trade schools and community
colleges both offer the two-year degree. Trade schools might ask
that you have one year of college before attending their school.
Universities offer the four-year program which leads to a bachelor’s
degree. Some bachelor’s programs ask that you already have
two years of college completed before enrolling in a dental hygiene
program. Biology, speech, English, sociology, anatomy and chemistry
would be required along with other classes. A good place to begin
searching for a dental hygiene school is online at the Dental Hygienist
Training Schools Directory.
Once your degree is obtained from an accredited dental hygiene
program and you take written and clinical exams, your license would
be granted by the state in which you choose to practice. In addition
to the regional or state written and clinical exams, most states
also ask that you take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination.
Once you are licensed, you may place the letters “RDH” after
your name to show that you are a Registered Dental Hygienist.